People who live in the Seattle area may find that attending rehab online could become the future of addiction treatment. Tele-treatment has been instrumental in connecting rehabilitation programs with their patients. 12-Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous have also moved many of their meetings online.
But how are these changes impacting people in recovery? The reality is that the COVID-19 outbreak has made online addiction treatment options a necessity. But that does not make the transition any easier. Still, it is one that we need to make, for now, and it may become even more important in the weeks and months to come.
How Has the Coronavirus Impacted People in Addiction Recovery in WA State?
People who battle addictions often have to be pulled out of isolation in order to recover. They are taught from the very beginning about the importance of making personal connections with others to get support. That goes for forming good relationships with professionals like their therapists and psychiatrists, as well as participating in groups.
When it became clear that the Coronavirus was going to change life as we know it, everything changed. Physically attending addiction treatment appointments was often no longer an option. AA and NA meetings were moved online, and churches and other previous meeting places were left empty. That lack of personal connection was and continues to be felt, and it hits hard.
The financial strain that many are finding themselves under is also a cause for concern. Many people have lost their jobs or they have been laid off or furloughed. That added stress only makes it that much easier for people to relapse, which is happening all over Washington State.
Finally, we cannot ignore the fact that many people have lost loved ones to the Coronavirus. All over the United States, major cities have completely shut down, Seattle included. Non-essential businesses have closed their doors to help to facilitate social distancing. Thousands of people have gotten sick, needed to be hospitalized and/or passed away as a result of this virus. That loss of life is something that can be hard to recover from. For someone who suffers from addiction, it gives them one more reason to relapse as a way to escape reality.
Our Admissions Director Weighs in on the Effects of COVID-19
Evan Beales is the admissions director at Northpoint Washington. He has been on the front lines, working with patients who could not help but feel hopeless because of social distancing. For many of them, the already socially-isolating disease of addiction has just gotten worse.
Evan says, “We’re seeing an increase in the number of suicides and of people falling into relapse.” Suddenly, people who have found the way to recover can no longer access it. Many of these individuals are people who can often see no alternative but to go back to using.
The Good News – Online Rehab and Support Groups are Saving Lives in WA State
While it might not be ideal, because, let’s face it – online meetings are no substitute for personal interaction – the Internet may be saving the day, and many lives. The website, HeraldNet posted an article about people’s responses to attending a 12-Step meeting through the Zoom app. It was a meeting that was void of holding hands or hugging. Instead, the computer screen was filled with hopeful faces of people who all needed support.
One man stated that he was currently in “survival mode.” Another one talked about his struggle at home while he was out of a job. The woman who started the meeting was having a very difficult time in self-quarantine when she decided to do something about it. Before long, she had upwards of 100 people joining her via Zoom.
But video conferencing apps are not the only options people have available to them. Many Facebook groups have popped up to provide recovering addicts with peer encouragement. In addition, many rehab programs have started offering online services to their patients.
Going to Rehab Online in Washington State
There are many addiction treatment facilities that have been able to make adjustments to continue to accept patients. But this is not always feasible, and it may not always be allowed by law. For that reason, tele-treatment has become available, which allows patients access to therapists and even group sessions virtually.
But going to rehab online has its benefits, even if it is not the ideal situation. Patients can still participate in individual sessions with their therapist and other professionals. They can talk “face-to-face” with video conferencing. Zoom, Skype and other apps make it possible for multiple people to get together at the same time for group therapy sessions.
Online rehab may very well be the future of addiction treatment, even when life in Washington State begins to get back to normal. It has become apparent that there are many people who need to have the ability to go to appointments virtually. It would not be surprising at all to find that this becomes just another service that many programs offer.
One Man Shares His Story About Addiction Recovery During the COVID-19 Outbreak
Bryan Seely lives in Bothell, Washington. He is a cyber security expert, a veteran and a father with two daughters at home. He has also battled addiction, but he has been in treatment for about two years. For Bryan, going to therapy has been life-changing. It has allowed him to get his life back on track and embrace what really matters. So when he received word that his treatment was about to change, it came as quite a shock.
Fortunately, Bryan was already working from home. He began to faithfully attend his teletherapy appointments just as religiously as he had done previously. This was an absolute necessity for him considering what he was risking going back to.
Bryan has a history of drug and alcohol addiction. His mother was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and his daughter was a sex-trafficking victim. At one point, he attempted suicide as a way of escaping his mental pain and anguish.
So many people have reverted back to their old ways of living since the pandemic. COVID-19 has a way of triggering depression according to Bryan’s psychologist, Dr. Kristen Kvamme. There is also an element of trauma; especially for those who have lost loved ones or who are first responders. Both are co-occurring disorders that are known to contribute to substance abuse problems.
Fortunately, Bryan is doing well. He is thriving at home with his daughters and in his online rehab sessions. The hope is that as we continue to weather this storm, more will find solace in knowing that an online community is rooting for them to succeed.
Online Drug and Alcohol Rehab is Available at Northpoint Washington
At Northpoint Washington, our primary concern is for our patients. We know how fragile they are, and how critical it is for them to continue to get recovery support; and even more during this uncertain time. That is why we have taken steps to keep them safe in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak.
We recognize that there are some people who need to attend inpatient treatment. We have taken steps to protect our patients and staff, including implementing pre-admission infection screening procedures. This includes:
- Carefully screening patients at the time of admission.
- Checking temperatures.
- Asking about their recent travel histories.
- Learning about any contacts they may have had with someone who has tested positive.
Many of our patients are considered to be high-risk, and they can access treatment in an outpatient setting. Telehealth allows us to connect with them virtually, providing them with the support they need. They can work with their therapist and participate in group therapy sessions with the help of technology.
Online Addiction Treatment in WA State: Is This the Future?
It is very difficult to say what the future of drug and alcohol rehab will be like at this time. At Northpoint Washington, we are thankful to have the ability to connect with our patients online. There is nothing more important to us than saving lives, and that is something we get to do every single day.
Are you interested in learning more about our online rehab options in Washington State? Please contact us today.